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Roueche Center Forum: Toward Gender Equality in Technology Careers


by Dr. Monica D. Wiggins and Dr. George R. Boggs

COVID-19 has shown that technology is a bridge to maintain some level of normalcy in our lives. It was only because of technological advances that institutions have been able to move to online teaching and services almost overnight, demonstrating the importance of preparing professionals to deal with world problems. According to Monica D. Wiggins’ 2021 study, Women Chief Technology Officers in Community Colleges, the proliferation of technology today, more than ever, requires skilled technology workers to operate an ever-increasing number of advanced technical devices and programs.

Dr. Monica D. Wiggins

The National Science Board (NSB) Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce reported that by 2022, the number of open technical professionals in the United States is expected to exceed the availability of technical professionals by 3.4 million. Alarmingly, given this predicted gap, there is still a shortage of women in STEM occupations. Women make up more than 50% of the US population, but make up only 30% of the STEM workforce (CoSTEM, 2018). Inequality of women in the workforce is not only an obstacle to meeting skilled labor needs, it also contributes to a lack of diversity, inclusion and different perspectives.

Based on the Wiggins 2021 study, there are several ways higher education can prepare more skilled professionals and increase the number of women in technology. Key strategies include nurturing from the inside out, supporting leadership, strengthening the pipeline, and systemic change.

Promotion from within

Informing girls and women about technology areas and educational pathways opens up opportunities and potential career paths for them. Senior women in the tech industry at community colleges can be ideal role models and mentors for aspiring women. Promoting students and practitioners within an institution increases opportunities for women in both technology and leadership, and brings the country’s workforce closer to gender equality.

Leadership support

Because community colleges are the institutions that enroll most students from underrepresented groups – including women – they offer a significant one

Dr. George R. Boggs

Potential to fill competency gaps and increase the number of students who acquire these qualifications. Senior female leaders in community colleges can help shape and transform the perception of women in technology, as found in the 2021 study.

Supportive managers can look after students and offer them the opportunity to take part in training courses, conferences, seminars and workshops for professional development – and help them improve their writing and presentation skills. Leaders can also show women firsthand what leadership means by providing opportunities to guide them.

Strengthening the pipeline

Community college leaders can work with outside organizations to support women pursuing careers in technology and young girls in their K-12 grades. These partnerships can support the growth of young girls and women in the tech industry and be an important way to increase the percentage of women in the tech industry and in technology leadership positions.

Systemic change

According to the Wiggins study, executives should work with their HR department to conduct compensation studies for IT positions to ensure fair wages for women and other underrepresented groups. An analysis of remuneration levels can lead to suitable classifications for IT job profiles and ensure competitive and fair salary and social benefits. Managers may also seek changes in employment processes that require screening and various interview panels trained to avoid non-occupational preferences in order to promote equality and limit internal bias.

Summary

Community colleges can be at the forefront of leaders who identify and support women and other underrepresented groups pursuing careers in technology and leadership. These institutions offer women the opportunity to stand out and gain formal qualifications; They also provide suitable jobs where women can advance in technology and leadership. Increasing the number of women in technology is important in meeting the urgent need for STEM professionals and providing greater numbers of skilled individuals who can maintain the country’s global competitiveness and address the problems of today’s world. The diversity of perspectives resulting from an increase in women in the STEM workforce offers employers a great opportunity.

Dr. Monica D. Wiggins is Vice Chancellor for the Administrative Technology Services District of Wayne County Community College District in Michigan.

Dr. George R. Boggs is President Emeritus and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges and Superintendent Emeritus / President of Palomar College, California. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and Professor of Practice at the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership at Kansas State University.

The Roueche Center Forum is led by Drs. John E. Roueche and Margaretta B. Mathis of the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership, Department of Educational Leadership, College of Education, Kansas State University.

This article originally appeared in the July 8, 2021 issue of Diverse. Read it Here.